Nebraska may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of wine country, but the state has a growing wine industry with several great wineries worth exploring. Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or just looking for a fun day out with friends and family, Nebraska wineries offer something for everyone. Keep reading to read about my favorite wineries.
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From vineyard tours and tastings to live music events and artisanal food pairings, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy. In this article, I’ll take you on a journey through some of the top wineries in Nebraska, highlighting which wine to try first, and why you should pay them a visit. If you’re partial to hard ciders, Nebraska has a growing number of cideries to visit as well.
James Arthur Vineyards has making wine since 1996. Located near Lincoln, it's a popular destination for wine loves. The vineyard's Brianna grape is award-winning, so try their Sparkling Brianna. Here's how they describe it: "Think of sitting on a tropical beach somewhere, listening to the waves slowly lapping up on the sand all around you as the cool ocean breeze blows by you. That’s the feeling you’ll get when you try this sparkling wine..."
One of the closest wineries to Omaha, Soaring Wings is the winery I've visited most over the years. They've been open since 2004, and have a particularly faithful following who attend their outdoor concerts and fall grape stomping events. The Edelweiss at Soaring WIngs is one of their most popular wines. It's a sweet white wine with a floral nose and crisp apple notes.
A trip to Brownville always includes a stop at Whiskey Run Creek Winery for me. It's quite possibly the most picturesque Nebraska winery: It's housed in a 100-year-old barn. I like to get a glass of their Vignoles. It has a nice citrusy flavor with hints of apricot and pineapple.
Apple House Market, 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, Neb.
Lied Lodge, 2700 Sylvan Road, Nebraska City, Neb.
While there isn't a physical winery to visit at Arbor Day Farm, you can go to the tasting room inside Apple House Market, or you can purchase bottles inside the Lied Lodge Gift Shop (there are occasional wine tastings at the gift shop, too). They specialize in apple wines and fruit wines, so you'll want to try one of those when you're there. The Apple Pie wine is an excellent sweet wine with a hint of cinnamon that's perfect for wassail recipes.
I'll admit how I found this winery: Cellar 426 is the closest winery to Mahoney State Park and, well, I needed a break from my family. Just a quick one with my sister, and then we were back hanging out with our husbands and kids and happy as could be.
I've also went to Cellar 426 with a group of girlfriends while we were staying at Platte River State Park, so I guess what I'm saying is that this is the place to hang out, escape, and have a little fun. You can get a wine flight or a wine sampling if you aren't ready to commit to a full glass or bottle.
Mac's Creek Vineyards and Winery is a family-owned enterprise since 2001. I don't have a particular favorite, so if you get a chance to visit the winery I recommend trying a flight to sample a variety. Or, I always feel like a Edelweiss is a safe bet to try at any Nebraska winery. Mac's Creek's is a semi-sweet white wine with some intense falvors of peach and apricot. Edelweiss is similar to a Riesling.
SchillingBridge is a winery I have found offering samples at Omaha farmers markets. The family-run winery and microbrewery is based out of Pawnee City, but also has a charming taphouse in Lincoln. Food is available at the winery on Saturdays and Sundays. If sweet wine is your thing, check out their Hell on Heels white wine.
Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard, 5995 G Road, Nebraska City, Neb.
Kimmel is first and foremost an apple orchard, and a lovely fall destination to boot. Over the years, the orchard expanded to include a vineyard, and a tasting room on-site in the Apple Barn. The set-up lends itself well to sampling a variety of wines. The Kimmel Reserve is a delicious blend of Vignoles, La Crosse and Seyval Blanc grapes.
Niobrara Valley Vineyards, 90256 State Spur 16F Nenzel, Neb.
Niobrara Valley Vineyards has set out to prove that the Nebraska Sandhills can produce great wine. If you visit their tasting room, try their dry white Brianna, which has won several awards in the last seven years.
The central Nebraksa winery was started by Nick and Kristen Ryan, whose first harvest was in 2017 (though their vineyard vines were started in 2003). Their Afternoon Delight is fairly close to a Reisling in flavor, with hints of pineapple and green apple. It's worth pointing out they have a full menu of food, including a kid's menu.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of wines are produced in Nebraska?
Nebraska produces a range of wines including red, white, and fruit wines. Some of the most popular grape varietals grown in Nebraska are Marquette, Frontenac, La Crescent, and Vignoles. The more you sample wines, the easier it is to determine what you like. I prefer Vignoles, usually, and shy away from red wines produced in the Midwest.
How does the climate in Nebraska affect the wine production?
The climate in Nebraska can be challenging for wine production as it is subject to extreme temperature fluctuations, particularly during the winter and spring months. However, the state has a relatively long growing season with warm summers that allow for ripening of grapes, resulting in unique and flavorful wines.
What grape varietals are grown in Nebraska?
Nebraska grows a range of grape varietals including Marquette, Frontenac, La Crescent, and Vignoles for wine production. In addition to these, other varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are also grown in the state.
What makes Nebraska wines unique compared to other regions?
The unique climate and soil conditions of Nebraska, along with the use of cold-hardy grape varieties, result in wines with a distinct character that cannot be found in other regions. Nebraska wines are often described as having a balance of fruit and acidity, making them enjoyable to drink and versatile with food.
What are the best months to visit Nebraska wineries?
The best months to visit Nebraska wineries are typically from May through October, as this is when the weather is most conducive to outdoor activities and events.
Are there any special events or festivals dedicated to Nebraska wines?
es, there are several special events and festivals dedicated to Nebraska wines throughout the year, including the Sip Nebraska, Nebraska Wine and Jazz Festival, and the Nebraska Wine & Balloon Festival.
What food pairings go well with Nebraska wines?
Nebraska wines pair well with a variety of foods, but some popular pairings include smoked meats, grilled vegetables, and cheese.
Can I bring my own food to a Nebraska winery?
Usually, no. Some Nebraska wineries allow guests to bring their own food, but it is always best to check with the winery ahead of time.
Is there a tasting fee at Nebraska wineries?
Many Nebraska wineries do charge a tasting fee, but the fee is often waived if guests purchase a certain amount of wine.
Can I bring my pet to a Nebraska winery?
Pets are not typically allowed inside Nebraska wineries, but some wineries may have outdoor areas where pets are allowed. I’ve sat outdoors with our Aussie when visiting Whiskey Run Creek in Brownville.
Are Nebraska wineries family-friendly?
Many Nebraska wineries are family-friendly and offer activities for children, such as grape juice tastings and outdoor games. I’ve brought my kids to outdoor concerts at Soaring Wings Winery & Vineyard.
Can I purchase wine online from Nebraska wineries?
Yes, many Nebraska wineries offer online sales and shipping of their wines to various states. However, it is important to check with the winery regarding shipping availability and restrictions.
Although often overlooked in favor of other wine-producing regions, Nebraska boasts a thriving wine industry that is definitely worth discovering.